Opposition leader charged with conspiring to organize coup
The U.S. embassy in Skopje has said that it was following the criminal proceedings against Zoran Zaev "with concern."Source: Tanjug, Reuters, TASS
Zaev, leader of the Social Democrats, was charged by police on Saturday with conspiring with a foreign intelligence service to topple the government.
The U.S. embassy urged Macedonian authorities to adhere to the highest standards of the rule of law, transparency, freedom of speech and independent judiciary in the legal proceedings, "in order to secure the integrity of democratic processes."
The Russian Foreign Ministry addressed the same development on Saturday to say Moscow "hopes for a thorough investigation into the failed attempted of coup in Macedonia."
"We express hope for a thorough investigation into it in the interests of stability and security in Macedonia. We are calling on all political forces of that country to act in compliance with the constitution-based democratic institutions, to solve the problems by means of a dialogue. Aggravation of the situation in friendly Macedonia may cause dangerous escalation of ethnic conflicts in the country," the Russian MFA said in a statement, and added:
"This situation proves once again the importance of Russia’s suggestion the OSCE should adopt a document banning anti-constitutional coups."
Zaev has denied the charges against him, saying authorities were trying in vain to prevent the publication of what he says is incendiary evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the conservative government of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, Reuters reported.
The agency noted that Gruevski has been in power since mid-2006, and that he "accused Zaev of trying to blackmail him to call a snap election during face-to-face talks in September and November, saying Zaev claimed he had gathered intelligence against the government with the help of a foreign spy service."
"I watched and listened to the head of the opposition... informing me that he is collaborating with a foreign intelligence service," Gruevski said.
Zaev's party has been boycotting parliament for almost a year since alleging fraud in the last parliamentary election. His potential imprisonment would further deepen political divisions "and may heighten concern in the West over a perceived authoritarian streak in Gruevski's rule," Reuters said.